Friday, May 22, 2015

'Openly Straight' by Kill Konigsberg


The award-winning novel about being out, being proud, and being ready for something else . . . now in paperback.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate feeling different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

Funny characters. The characters were humorous and kind. They were likable and extremely so.
Rafe was fascinating because of that. He was gay but not gay. That was fascinating. I can understand his want for no labels. It made sense. But denying that part of you? That's practically impossible. You can't stop being yourself. You can't stop being Rafe. Of course, you can stop being the gay guy. (If you understand.) But you can't stop being gay. I liked his writing. It was quite emotional. (That fastwrite. That was great.) His writing was great. It told a story from his perspective. And it showed his life before Natick. It showed his past experiences. We got backstory through the stories Rafe wrote. Rafe was a combination of things. He was athletic, but he hung out with survivalists. (The apocalypse is coming!) It was an odd combination. But I admire him for it. (And I find Rafe a great character because I KNOW a Rafe. Heh heh. It makes things oh-so amazing.)
Ben was a good soul. I liked his kind personality. He would do lots for Bryce and Rafe. They were his best friends. I admired his loyalty. He was also a cool guy. He wasn't a jock in the way you might think. He was athletic at most. But he was also himself. He was Ben. Who was Ben? Ben was a kind soul who had a deeper side. (Not everybody has that side.) I can't say much of anything else, though. I didn't get enough from Ben. I wanted more. Maybe some poetry reading? I don't know. I felt like Ben didn't have too much depth. He seemed...flat to me. What do I mean? It is tough to say. I can't be clear about my thoughts on Ben; Rafe definitely wasn't.

The plot was good. It was quite dramatic. I mean...whoa. We had the introductory scenes. A bit boring, if you ask me. Then...wham! We hit the gay-but-not-gay scenes. I can't really...put my finger on those scenes. The majority of the plot was taken over by Ben and Rafe flirting-but-not-flirting. (See what I did there?) I didn't mind the cute flirting scenes.
But there didn't seem to be much of anything else. They hung out. That's the majority of the plot. Hanging out and making cute quips. The banter wasn't bad. Some of the vocabulary was...hard for me to understand. (My vocabulary isn't that big, not matter what anyone tells me. There are always new words being invented every day.) I wanted something more. Maybe more scenes like the one in the showers with Robinson. Standing up. Being brave. I am a fan of those scenes. While this story was fascinating with the scenes it has...I wanted more. I didn't mind the going to Colorado part. That was cool. Really cool. It's like meeting the parents but not. (Since they weren' or anything.) The second coming out. (I found that hilarious to think of.) And then...the backstory that came from Rafe's writing. I thought that was a nice way to show us, the readers, his life.
There was a lot of drinking. It was quite crazy. Especially that one party scene. Man...who knew that was a drinking game? I can't imagine not puking at least once. (Spinning and alcohol. The best combination for puking since 1985.) I know that teenagers drink. I get that. But seriously? Each room Rafe stays in has their own drinking game/drink. Plastic screwdrivers. Seriously?

The romance was adorable. I have to admit that. It was fluffy. Very fluffy. I knew the relationship would blossom. It had to. Who are we kidding? The two were compatible. They clicked. And when they kissed...whoa. I felt my cheeks heat up a little bit. They did have chemistry. And what they had worked. It made Rafe's decision to be not openly gay but not in the closet complicated. And Ben's sexuality was more confusing. He loved Rafe. Like...eros but also agape. (I won't forget that. I'll use it until the end of time. Agape. Nice word.) They had something special. A bond that I hoped wouldn't break. And I hoped they would repair it. Sigh...boys. I don't get their minds sometimes.
I had one problem, though. I didn't need to know if either was hard or not... That freaked me out a bit. (It's not like I haven't read a few smexy scenes before, though. Hahaha.) I get it. Boys have urges. Boys have their own private parts. And private thoughts. But why does that reign king? Why is that the first thing you ask? You don't need to go there, kiddo. I'm fine without knowing if you got hard.

Ending was odd. I actually wanted Ben to forgive Rafe. I liked that relationship. I would have went with that relationship to the end. As I've said, I liked the relationship. It was a good ship. And a captain goes down with his or her ship. (Heh heh.) I wanted something else. I didn't mind that Rafe made up with best friend Claire Olivia. Those two were good friends. I liked how they went about their friendship. It was good to see such a close duo. These days it's been dating the entire way. This and refreshing. I didn't like how the relationship ended. That was a problem. I wanted forgiveness. Perhaps Ben did forgive Rafe. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. We don't know. I have problems with not knowing things at times. I like to think I have connections and am good at eavesdropping. So this made me a bit upset. I wanted the finality. Too bad I didn't get it.
I do think that it's great that Rafe finally accepted the him-being-gay thing. It was a part of thing he couldn't deny. It's like trying to be someone else. Putting on someone else's personality for a day. Ick. That would freak me out. (Especially if they were happy-go-lucky. I like being who I am, thank you very much. My morbid comments and perverted jokes make me unique.) The fact that he finally accepted himself was great. You have to know yourself before anything else.


Sunny with a 50% chance of rain

No comments:

Post a Comment